I’m back from Thailand, so now you all have to hear about it (yay?)! I’d never been to Asia before, so the whole thing was pretty exciting, though I did find the encroachment of American franchises to be surprising, yet strangely comforting (I only say this because I no longer live in America, and it was nice to be able to get some foods I miss; I think if I wasn’t an expat, my opinion would be rather different). Anyway, I’m going to start off in Phuket, with a bit of island hopping – ultimate destination, James Bond Island, where The Man with the Golden Gun was filmed.
In what would be a common theme on the holiday, we had to wake up extremely early (which I think is contributing to my lingering jet lag) so that we could be picked up by a fabulously pimped out mini-van bus, and get taken down to the docks. The charming boat pictured at the start of the post is not what we were riding in, rather, we were in what was described as a “cruise boat” which is DEFINITELY NOT to be confused with a cruise ship. It was basically a fairly open structure with some benches on the top deck, a storage place below for the inflatable canoes that would transport us to each island, a kitchen, and some pretty horrific toilets (if your bladder is as small as mine, it might be better just to risk dehydration and hold back on the water for the day. Though on second thought, don’t do that, I don’t want to be blamed for causing sunstroke.).
We pootled around for about an hour before reaching the first island, where we were allotted an hour or so for swimming and “relaxation.” Unfortunately, as the boat had to moor quite far away from the shore due to the shallow water, we had to transfer into the aforementioned canoes to be rowed ashore. Happily, we didn’t have to row our own canoes (or I probably never would have made it ashore), but jumping down into a flimsy canoe from the back of a boat was nonetheless scary, because I can’t swim, and there were no life jackets. I guess the water was usually shallow enough that I would have been ok, but it still freaked me out. I did go for a dip in the bay (I think it was technically a bay), but kind of regretted it, as the water was extremely salty and I had to sit around in wet salty clothes for the rest of the day. Also there were crabs in the water, and crabs scare the crap out of me (this whole post is going to read like a collection of my phobias). Worst of all though, were the toilets onshore. I’ve literally had nightmares that featured toilets like this (what, doesn’t everyone have nightmares about public restrooms?). Not only were they squat toilets, which I could have dealt with had they been appropriately equipped, but there was no toilet paper, soap, or running water, and the floor was covered in a couple inches of horrible brown water that you couldn’t avoid stepping in. So yeah, don’t plan on rinsing off after a swim.
We went to maybe three other islands after, but on those we didn’t even get out of the canoes, as we were paddled around various grottoes and stone formations. That part was actually quite relaxing, except for having to duck all the way down to get inside the caves, so that my head ended up on my boyfriend’s lap (so make sure you get in a canoe with someone you like!). Our guide pointed out to us the “male trees” on one island (close up below, so you can probably spot why they were “male”).
The islands were all fairly similar, but they were still pretty cool to see. I do like a good grotto, particularly if I don’t have to do anything (like rowing or paddling) to see it. The quality of the tour did depend on which canoe you got into, as some guides were much friendlier than others.
Of course, the part of the excursion we were all waiting for was James Bond Island, which they saved til the end. I am a Sean Connery kind of girl, but I do stand by my assertion that Roger Moore’s films are more watchable, in that they seem to drag on less, so I was enthused to see Scaramanga’s lair. However, the island was kind of a bust. The giant rock thing in the middle is cool, and you must get an obligatory Bond pose photo in front of it, but it was so damn touristy. The only things on the island were tourists themselves, and a million crappy stalls selling the worst kind of tat. It was all beads and necklaces and crap, not even any decent postcards. I think they would have been better off trying to recreate some Bond stuff, or at least having a Roger Moore statue or something.
After James Bond Island, we were given lunch on the boat, and than sat around for a good couple hours whilst we travelled back. It didn’t feel like we had gone that far, but it seriously took about three hours to get back to the pier, and we all fell asleep en route. Which was probably for the best, as it meant I didn’t have to use the boat toilet again.
All in all, I think it was a decent excursion, but not really something I’d do again (not least because of the toilets, and it was also weirdly exhausting, even though we were just conveyed around the whole time). In the end, the other islands ended up being far more picturesque than the tourist trap that was James Bond Island (which was of course billed as the high point of the tour), so if you can get a cheaper tour that doesn’t include James Bond Island, I’d go for that, unless you’re a diehard Bond fan! A lot of my Thailand posts are going to be on random non-museum topics like this, since I only visited one museum whilst I was there, so I hope no one minds the brief departure from my usual subject matter (maybe you’ll at least enjoy the pictures?).